Labor Commissioner Sues Uber/Lyft
This morning, we received news from the California State Labor Commissioner's office that they have announced a lawsuit against both Lyft and Uber to enforce AB5 and to ensure that workers who had wages stolen by these companies are compensated. All of this is thanks to the hard work of RDU, who have for the past 6 months, been waging a campaign to see AB5 enforce by the labor commissioner! Below is our official press release on this momentous victory, as well as an update being sent out to all those who filed wage claims on what comes next:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 5, 2020
Rideshare Drivers United and the Transport Workers Union Support California Labor Commission’s Lawsuit Against Uber and Lyft
Lawsuit seeks more than $1.3 billion in wage claims from rideshare drivers in California
On Wednesday, August 5, 2020, the California Labor Commission announced a lawsuit against Uber and Lyft alleging the companies have stolen more than $1.3 billion in wages from rideshare drivers in California. The lawsuits include unpaid minimum wages for all hours worked, unpaid overtime, paid sick leave violations, and reimbursement of business expenses.
“Labor Commissioner Garcia-Brower is standing up for workers and holding these companies accountable,” said Transport Workers Union President John Samuelsen. “For years Uber and Lyft have been stealing wages and exploiting every legal loophole they can to avoid paying drivers what they deserve. It was shameful before and it is even more shameful now, during the middle of a pandemic, that we have allowed wealthy companies to get away with this. This lawsuit is an essential part of holding these companies accountable and protecting drivers’ rights.”
This lawsuit follows the news that Rideshare Drivers United (RDU) and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) assisted workers in filing more than $1.3 billion in wage claims from more than 5,000 Uber and Lyft drivers across the state with the use of a wage claim app. The app, which was released on March 25, is an online tool that allows rideshare drivers and other app-based workers to easily submit claims for unpaid wages and business expenses through the California Labor Commission.
The drivers who have submitted wage claims using this tool represent a fraction of the workers in California who have been misclassified as independent contractors, despite the state law that clarifies that these workers are employees entitled to basic labor rights, including a minimum wage, overtime, and sick-leave pay.
“This lawsuit is happening because thousands of drivers in California have stuck together to fight for something better for our profession as app-based drivers,” said Nicole Moore, a driver and organizer with Rideshare Drivers United. “The reason the Commissioner is taking action is because the level of wage theft that Uber and Lyft have committed for years is an assault on the people of California. It has to stop.”
The California Labor Commission’s lawsuit also comes as rideshare drivers are distributing PPE and protesting in cities across California for AB 5 enforcement ahead of the Superior Court of San Francisco’s expected ruling on a preliminary injunction filed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the City Attorneys of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego that would require Uber and Lyft to immediately stop misclassifying drivers as independent contractors. AB 5 went into effect at the beginning of 2020, but these companies are still refusing to grant drivers a living wage, overtime pay, sick-leave pay, and expense payments, among other rights. A study from UC-Berkeley shows that Prop 22, a ballot initiative funded by Uber and Lyft to grant them an exemption from AB 5, would guarantee drivers just $5.64 per hour.
Rideshare Drivers United is a driver-led organization with more than 15,000 drivers in the state of California. https://drivers-united.org
The Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, represents more than 151,000 workers in the airline, railroad, transit, universities, utilities and services sectors.
For those who have filed a wage claim, this is the update for what we anticipate comes next:
We’re reaching out because you’ve probably seen some communication from the California Labor Commissioner’s Office in your email inbox today, confirming that they are suing Uber and Lyft! This is a MAJOR victory that was initiated by each one of us filing our individual wage claims as part of RDU’s “People’s Enforcement Campaign.” THANKS to all of you, our campaign was a HUGE success! This campaign was created specifically to push California state agencies, like the Labor Commissioner, to enforce AB5 and address the misclassification of drivers as independent contractors.
Since the Labor Commissioner has decided to sue to enforce AB5, we know you have more questions like what this lawsuit means for your individual claims. Right now, RDU is gathering more information, but according to the CA Labor Commissioner’s statement:
“The lawsuits seek to recover amounts owed to all of Uber’s and Lyft’s drivers, including the nearly 5,000 drivers who have filed claims for owed wages with the Labor Commissioner’s Office in California. Moreover, the lawsuits seek recovery for a wider range of statutory violations and damages than those asserted in individual wage claims and other lawsuits. Amounts collected by the Labor Commissioner for unpaid wages, liquidated damages owed to workers, penalties owed to workers, and reimbursement of business expenses owed to workers, will be distributed to all drivers who worked for Uber or Lyft during the time period covered by this lawsuit, not just to those drivers who filed individual claims with the Labor Commissioner.”
Although this means that individual claims will be dismissed, instead now EVERY driver throughout California will benefit from this law enforcement action and will receive the chance to recoup their stolen wages regardless of any arbitration agreements with Uber and Lyft.
We realize there’s still some unknowns, but for now, let’s celebrate what this AMAZING news means for building our drivers union and what we have accomplished together!
We will continue to update you as we get more information. You can always check our wage claim website here. (((DILR press release link https://www.dir.ca.gov/DIRNews... list of multiple CA state agencies pressuring Uber and Lyft to FINALLY comply with the law is growing everyday! This means we are that much closer to attaining employee protections like sick/hazard pay and collective bargaining rights, and to building our driver-formed, driver-led union!! Thank you to all of our amazing driver members because it proves that working together is bringing us that much closer to better pay and better working conditions.
RDU Leadership Team